Overall confidence among U.S. finance and accounting employees dipped for the second consecutive quarter as workers battle through a general sense of uncertainty over the economy, the presidential election and, most importantly, the resolution to the impending fiscal cliff, according to a new study from professional placement firm Mergis Group.
More finance people believe the economy is weakening than they did in the second quarter and fewer are confident about their ability to get a new job. Just 15% of employed finance and accounting workers believe more jobs are available now compared to the second quarter. Only 26% said they are likely to look for a new job in the next 12 months, well below the norm, Mergis said.
The study, conducted by Harris Interactive on behalf of the Mergis Group prior to the election, surveyed 3,790 adults aged 18 and older from July 10-12, August 14-16 and September 11-13, for its third quarter report. It targeted workers in four industries: finance, engineering, information technology and health care. Of the total surveyed, 183 were employed in finance.
“The worst thing for any market is uncertainty,” said Steve McMahan, executive vice president of Randstad US, Mergis’s parent company. The re-election of President Barack Obama on Tuesday may only provide a short-term resolution.
Financial execs donated far more money to Mitt Romney’s campaign than to Obama in this election. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose on Election Day by more than 133 points, or 1%, on the hope of a Romney win and dropped more than 300 points, or 2.3%, by midday during the day following Obama’s victory.
As the New York Times points out, Wall Street at least knows what they are getting with Obama, and is prepared for the ramifications of the Dodd-Frank Act, among other Democrat-sponsored regulatory measures.
The real uncertainty for finance workers, says McMahan, is the fiscal cliff, a package of tax increases and spending cuts that, if not dealt with, could spin the U.S. economy back into recession.
“If the cliff hits and you take 5% of GDP out of the economy, it’s a mess,” McMahan said. “No matter who’s in charge, someone needs figure it out.” Similar to the Clinton administration, where spending was cut and taxes were raised, a grand compromise is needed, McMahan said.
Without a resolution, even the housing market, which has bounced back in recent months and created thousands of jobs, will settle back into recession mode, McMahan said.